By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2018 7:31 AM CDT
(NEWSER) – After driving a taxi in New York City for 30 years, 59-year-old Abdul Saleh ended up hanging himself in his rented room after finding himself $300 short of his car lease payment. Saleh is the sixth taxi driver to kill himself in the city in recent months, CBS Newsreports, and the New York Taxi Workers Alliance says “something has to change.” Alliance executive director Bhairavi Desai, speaking at a rally outside City Hall on Monday, said the drivers had died because the city failed to regulate companies that “came into town with little to no regulation,” NBC News reports. “How is it possible that you have professional workers that have been driven to suicide because the poverty is so crushing and because there is such a sense of hopelessness, because of political inaction?” she asked.
Desai stressed that she wanted Uber and Lyft drivers protected, not banned. She called for measures to help all drivers, including fare rises, retirement funds, and a cap on the number of vehicles. “We now have 130,000 cars competing for the same set of fares that 65,000 cars used to do five years ago,” she said. “The math doesn’t add up, and that deficit means less money for food, less money for rent, less time with their families.” A neighbor in Brooklyn says Saleh, an immigrant from Yemen who sent money home to his mother every month, was “very upset” and had been facing severe financial problems despite working 12-hour shifts, often at night. (This driver said he would rather be dead than a “slave working for chump change.”)